I suspect the mybarackobama.com site will be down soon, or in any case will not stay up indefinitely, so I've snagged a couple of old posts from there.
The moment I became a fan
Friday, February 29, 2008 4:55 PM
So, like many people, I'd increasingly come to appreciate what Obama was saying -- all the good things about hope and change, all the sensible policy statements, etc. Of course, in our hypercynical world, I actually expect to be lied to, or at least swindled. But increasingly I was starting to think that, even if he couldn't live up to them, I wanted our next president to have pretty much exactly the ideals that Barack is talking about.
But my watershed moment came in South Carolina. You remember South Carolina: the state that delivered the Bill Clinton candidacy, the state the campaigns came to rolling off of Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire, and ... the state where Hillary fired the Bill Clinton missile. Bill Clinton had spent most of the campaign smiling and exuding confidence, leading with that lantern jaw and increasingly ruddy cheeks and that squinty smile. (Sometimes watching Bill Clinton is like reaching for that fourth beer: you're pretty sure your judgement is getting clouded, but it just feels great.)
Anyway, in those days leading up to South Carolina, Hillary Clinton directed Bill Clinton in a broad attack on Obama. In a forum where Bill could just talk -- no questions, no accountability, no focus on the issues -- Bill flamed Barack, calling his candidacy a "fairy tale" and other negative talk. I felt anger toward both Clintons, along with the familiar revulsion of watching someone whom I though was a pretty good person getting dragged through the mud.
We know what happened, of course: South Caroline went HUGE for Obama, catapulted him into the current string of victories (10? 11?), and he was off to the races.
But the best part of the story is: when asked about the vilification from the Clinton campaign, Obama just said, "Senator Clinton and I were friends before this campaign began, and we'll be friends after it ends." Grace, charity, and a nose for the high road: THAT'S what I want in my next president.
Something I've been carrying around
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 3:50 PM
Originally, I thought the Democratic party would nominate John Edwards. Not necessarily because I 'm an Edwards fan -- although I like him, and he's grown on me, and I think he may still have a part to play in the 2008 drama. No, I just figured Hillary is unelectable, and this country just wasn't going to vote for a black guy with a name like "Barack." Or "Obama." Particularly in this nutty system in which the Iowa caucus disproportionately determines who will run for president. Everyone knows that pork-munching, gun-toting, law-and-order types in Iowa would never go for the skinny dark guy with the foreign name.
Resoundingly wrong. I've never been more proud of this country than when Iowa went for Obama.
And Iowa made me look in the mirror and confront my own bigotries. Why would I think that this state or this country would not elect a person of color? Why did I think my country was so shallow that only good-looking white men could get elected (Romney and Edwards are both gone)? The real victory for me was realizing that I no longer thought of Obama in terms of race or any other demographic, but instead had started to perceive in Obama the best that America can be.
Increasingly I do not think that the Obama candidacy is "historic" because he's mixed race, but because the level of optimism and hope for a better life is so well-modelled that I cannot help but hope and aspire to be a better person.